Customer Service in the Digital Age: Do you still need human interactions?

Customer Service in Digital Age: Do you still need human interactions

 

Customer support software and support tracking system creator, Zendesk, found that 50% of customer support users prefer and even expect to solve issues concerning a product on their own.  They also reported that 70% of businesses have a self-service option in their websites.

There is no denying the digital age when it comes to customer service options, especially as millennials come of age.  Entrepreneur reports that millennials and gen z consumers want two things: responsiveness and self-service.  They are repeatedly turning to mediums such as social media to solicit support, both from friends and from businesses. Author of the article, Jay Baer, goes on to say how, “Young consumers know exactly what needs to be done, and they are not willing to spend 20 minutes on the phone waiting for someone to do it for them.

Millennials, specifically, have grown up using a wide variety of devices to communicate. From dial phones to email and now mobile phones and tablets, millennials are never far from some sort of communication device.  A survey of adults in the UK found that 75% of them own a mobile device, but 25% won’t use them to make a call.  The reasons for this vary, from millennials preferring asynchronous communications to a fear of a verbal “faux pas,” and the preference for having a written record. However, there are times that a verbal conversation is necessary, such as initial discovery processes when evaluating a new vendor to complicated account questions.

Chatbots are Killing Customer Service

This rather bold statement was made in a recent article on Forbes by business consultant, Christopher Elliott. The article states results from CGS on the state of the Global Consumer Customer Service Report, 50% of U.K. respondents and 40% of U.S. prefer a person for customer support over a chatbot.  And the article goes on to say that chatbots will never replace human interactions, for one straightforward reason. Chatbots rely on data input into their database by humans. Additionally, the article goes on to say, “A human can answer a question on the fly, empathize with a frustrated customer and get to the issue pretty quickly.” Chatbots are devoid of any type of emotion or empathy and unable to detect or respond to feelings, which can be detrimental to resolving a negative issue with an angry customer.

Additionally, as Harvard Business Review reports, having robotic interactions that attempt to infuse emotion into their interactions can be inherently disingenuous. Look at the example of MetLife, which implemented an IVR system to help settle a death-related claim and the bereaved are treated to a robotic voice offering digital condolences.

MetLife Robotic Voice: “We at Met Life want to express our sincere condolences for your loss.”

Why Humans are Necessary for Superior Customer Service

Why Humans Are Necessary for Superior Customer Service

 

In our experience, human interactions are still vitally important to any customer service strategy.  While Q&A, self help, and chatbots are a great first line of defense for any customer service situation, they should not be the entire strategy, as that can leave customers feeling disenfranchised and disconnected with your brand.

Customer service is emotional. Technology is not. Look back at Star Trek. Data, a robot equipped with artificial intelligence, regularly struggled to understand and “compute” human emotions and nuances. The thing about emotions is that they sometimes defy logic and are not clearly communicated through just a word or sentence structure. Text-driven communications can be difficult to determine the underlying sentiment as you cannot determine the tone of voice and nuance in a written word. When customers are anxious or upset, they need assurances that their issue will be resolved, not a text-driven, canned response.

Humans are social creatures.  Even with the explosion of Millennials entering the customer base and preferring self-help and automatic services, we can’t deny that they are social creatures. A survey by Accenture found that 83% of consumers reported preferring interaction between another human as opposed to using digital channels or technology. Despite Millennials preference for asynchronous communications, the statistics show that human interaction is still a necessity in this digital age. In fact, further in the Accenture study, it was reported that 45% of respondents were willing to pay a premium just to have access to another human being in their customer service needs. Therefore, the digital age does not automatically mean only electronic interactions.  Consumers really want options.  Digital, face to face, and even phone interactions. The primary requirement is that they have a way to interact with a business that is convenient and easy for them. As businesses, you need to be prepared to meet your consumer’s specific needs.

Customer service is inherently human

A study by Google and posted on Harvard Business Review found that 61% of mobile users call a business when they are in purchase phase of their buying cycle, and the reason for this is that picking up the phone provides a quicker answer to their question. This infographic on My Customer, and generated by contact center supplier Five9 found that 92% of consumer interactions are still performed over the telephone, and 71% of respondents prefer to keep it that way.

Premier BPO believes their customers’ customer is their customer and strives to represent others as they would represent themselves. Our top-notch customer service professionals are trained to handle customer service interactions from pre, during and post sales transactions. We believe that excellent customer service means helping customers efficiently and in a friendly way and that exceptional customer service is what can set your business apart.  Contact us today to learn how our team of dedicated professionals and help assist your company with improved margins, reduced costs and increased share of the market.

“As a longtime client, I want to thank you for being a true partner with us. As you know the call center environment is one with ever increasing regulatory oversight. Premier BPO is well aware of this and places great emphasis on being compliant while simultaneously meeting management objectives. Your company’s commitment to success shows at every level of management down to the individual supervisor and agent. I’m glad we partnered with Premier BPO and look forward to maintaining that relationship for years to come.”

Bruce E Mattare
Principal Member, NCD Financial, LLC